maandag 31 januari 2005

Stupid networks

If you would like to understand why telco/cable/mobile operators are facing a very difficult and marginal future, read this:

"If you look at the killer apps of the last decade: e-mail, the Web, e-commerce, blogging, instant messaging, VoIP, streaming audio and audio on demand, on-line game play, etc., not one has been brought to market by a telephone, cable or mobile telephony company. The Internet, because it is a Stupid Network, allows anybody to put bits representing anything on it. This leads to a wide variety of very cheap market experiments, and to the discovery of new winner apps."

Driving serendipty

"So, are we limiting our potential for serendipitous experiences while continually honing and shaping these self-selected-societies mirrored by our desktop environs?"

No, I do not think so. My personal experience leads me to belief that serendipity (making discoveries by accident) is increasingly around us as a result of the internet and all its varying applications. And I'm glad that's the case.

zondag 30 januari 2005

Field marketers armed with electronic tags

Anyone in the business of field marketing should be able to think of some creative way to use this:

"Hypertags are short-range wireless devices, which send information to mobile phones via infra-red or Bluetooth. A user can activate the infra-red or Bluetooth on their phone, hold it up to the Hypertag and receives content such as vouchers, business cards, ringtones or games."

Communists and DRM

Gizmodo did an interview with Bill Gates. One of the topics was DRM. Gates makes a good comment on why we have DRM in the first place. Whether we, as users, like it or not.

"Gates: Yes. There are artists who want the software to remind people of rights boundaries. Are those authors wrong or right? That's up to them. We don't take a position on that. What we want is to have as much content as possible available. And available in the most convenient, easy-to-use form."

Let's just hope artists and record companies will soon realize there are different ways to make money with the art they create.

SMS tags for the real world

In some ways the potential of SMS as an interactive advertising tool is still not fully exploited. The Dutch service SMSeenhuis should be an inspiring example.

"SMSeenHuis ("Text a House") is a Dutch service that allows mobile users to text the Real Estate boards outside residential houses. In response, they get details of asking price, address, number of rooms and square footage, along with the Real Estate Agent contact details. Participating real estate agents pay a EUR 20 fee (USD 27 / GBP 15.50) subscription fee, EUR 50 per unique property code, and EUR 0.50 per text message (capped at EUR 50 per month)."

The end of martketing as we know it

This won't be news to many of you, but let it be a reminder...

"It is a new challenge to marketers. Buying 30 seconds ads was easy, being present on millions of micro sources, identifying the ones that matter to the brand, communicating in an efficient way with these people, is a totally different story. It is not about putting an ad anymore, it is about treating customers and potential customers as partners."

zaterdag 29 januari 2005

Brain imaging and ethics

Brain imaging is an interesting area to follow, not only from a medical perspective. A lot is done in order to better understand the influence of marketing for instance. But it goes much further, raising meny ethical questions in the process. Like this one:

"The most complex, fraught, and uncertain aspect of brain imaging being discussed by neuroethicists is the potential these technologies hold for screening job and school applicants. This so far remains more a hypothetical notion than a budding industry, and no company or school has announced plans to scan applicants. Yet many ethicists feel the temptation will be overwhelming. How to resist a screen that can gauge precisely the sorts of traits—persistence, extroversion, the ability to focus or multitask—that make good employees or students?"

I'm not really afraid if we would use these technicques in society, even for screening purposes. We're already using similar tools, although they are less effecient and/or effective. What's wrong with having the ability to better match people to a specific job? It's only dangerous for the people who use these tools while not knowing what they can't do. And one thing they can't do in my opinion is really 'gauge precisely the sorts of traits—persistence, extroversion, the ability to focus or multitask—that make good employees or students'.

How to sell anything to anyone

So obvious and true, but somehow too many people are still very good at focusing on the wrong things...

"Sometimes, salesmanship is overrated. What matters more is real marketing, marketing that involves making the right product, not hyping it."

The not (yet) so cool big idea

Earlier this week I wrote about our inability to recognize the small things that matter. Further to that, Robert Scoble explains the Next Big Idea at Microsoft and how that contrasts with the apparent success of Apple. And although I don't like their execution in every way, their vision is correct. Build a platform that facilitates the proliferation of big and small ideas alike. Or as Steve Ballmer said it: developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers...

"Because on all of our platforms except for the Xbox there's a little piece of software called .NET. That lets programmers who've been writing Visual Basic code for the past decade (there's millions of them) to also write apps for the Media Center, the Tablet PC, and the SmartPhone. Now, a platform takes longer to evangelize. Why? Cause it's not as cool up front. But let's say that every app released has 500 users. Well, eventually that adds up to real numbers."

woensdag 26 januari 2005

Big things

Nice quote from 'the Microsoft blogger' Robert Scoble:

"We're not good at seeing the small things. It's why there's a Google today and why the iPod kicked our behind."

Although he's talking about Microsoft, I think this goes for most people and companies.

maandag 24 januari 2005


Interesting essay on the permanence of content on the web and the way it might offer a profitable business model for news publishers. The essay doesn't give you the specific answers on how to find that model, but it points in a right direction. The direction of Chris Anderson's Long Tail...

"Without permanence you slip off the search engines. Without permanence, bold ideas like 'news as conversation' fall away, because you're shutting down the conversation before it has barely started. Without permanence, you might be on the web, but you're certainly not part of it."

maandag 17 januari 2005

How to be creative

Following up on my previous post about creativity, I read a ChangeThis Manifesto by Hugh MacLeod, How To Be Creative. Here are some of the quotes that made me think...

"Good ideas alter the power balance in relationships, that is why good ideas are always initially resisted.

The idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to change the world.

Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. 90% of what separates successful people and failed people is time, effort, and stamina. Put the hours in; do it for long enough and magical, life-transforming things happen eventually.

Being good at anything is like figure skating—the definition of being good at it is being able to make it look easy. But it never is easy. Ever. Thatʼs what the stupidly wrong people conveniently forget.

Itʼs NOT doing it when you know you full well you HAD the opportunity—that hurts FAR more than any failure.

Every kid underestimates his competition, and overestimates his chances. Every kid is a sucker for the idea that thereʼs a way to make it without having to do the actual hard work.

The most important thing a creative person can learn, professionally, is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.

In order to navigate The New Realities you have to be creative—not just within your particular profession, but in EVERYTHING. Your way of looking at the world will need to become ever more fertile and original.

Merit can be bought. Passion can’t.

The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does.

Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

Trying to create when you donʼt feel like it is like making conversation for the sake of making conversation. Itʼs not really connecting, itʼs just droning on like an old, drunken barfly.

Put your whole self into it, and you will find your true voice. Hold back and you wonʼt. Itʼs that simple.

Intimacy doesnʼt scale. Not really. Intimacy is a one-on-one phenomenon."

zondag 16 januari 2005

The 6 myths of creativity

If innovation is critical to your business, make sure you facilitate creativity. And don't fall prey to the myths of creativity.

"Creativity depends on a number of things: experience, including knowledge and technical skills; talent; an ability to think in new ways; and the capacity to push through uncreative dry spells. Intrinsic motivation -- people who are turned on by their work often work creatively -- is especially critical."

It's just the beginning

A reminder...

"The Internet and its progeny are still early in their development, meanwhile. The Net is nowhere near as universal as it will be when we enter an age of what some call ubiquitous computing, but the outlines of its value are obvious today. For example, all media will eventually move around the world in little digital packages, called packets, that are the basic units of tomorrow's communications. The importance of this -- in decimating old businesses while improving most people's lives -- has not been sufficiently appreciated."

zaterdag 15 januari 2005

Variety is not enough

"As Amazon's Jeff Bezos explains it, for a product that a potential purchaser has a great deal of interest in, no amount of information is too much: from reader and trade reviews to service records, the more they can learn about a product the more comfortable they are buying it. But for products that they just don't care much about, even something as simple as knowing what most other people bought can make the difference between being frozen by overwhelming choice and purchasing with confidence."

This article makes me think what can be done in physical retail environments. Information on best-selling items, and even collaborative filtering, could be made available at POS for instance.

A real virtual life

I wrote a column for Netkwesties, a Dutch magazine on internet and society, focusing on the question whether it's good or not that an ever larger part of our lives is spend in a 'virtual environment'. Judge for yourself, but don't let ingnorance get in the way....

dinsdag 11 januari 2005

Music-driven networking

Again, social networking is getting some more relevance. This time through music, Danah Boyd explains how...

"Music is a cultural foci, one that i think has a lot of salience for these tools. It is present in most of the sociable articulated social networks and the most important factor for MySpace (built on indie rock bands) and (built on Burning Man culture which is fundamentally a music/art festival). Yet, it is last.FM that takes it to the next level and lets you connect for and because of the music, directly appreciating others' music tastes."

maandag 10 januari 2005

The shadow internet

Always wanted to know how the latest films and movies end up as downloadables on KaZaa and the likes?

"The kids in the scene aren't trying to bomb the system. They don't care a whit whether major labels suffer more from file-sharing than indie labels, or if a ban on prerelease DVDs affects Miramax's chances at the Academy Awards. They do this because it feels mildly rebellious, like smoking a doobie behind the local Kroger or setting off the school fire alarm - and because it's fun."

Podcasting future

Wired writes about the future of Podcasting. It's especially important to look at the distribution mechanism/model behind podcasting since it will give you a glimpse of how media will be consumed in the (near) future. Also have a look at Om Malik's comments about Videora, there's a link between these two stories...

"Franklin agreed, and said given how young podcasting is, it's important to look beyond what's available today to see a day when it will be widely used by public radio, churches, universities, families and anyone else with a microphone. "Most people misjudge the usefulness of the technology by judging the content," said Franklin. "(They) say, 'Why would I want to listen to this audio blog?' When in fact, the future of the technology has nothing to do with audio blogs."

Tsunami citizen journalism

"If Web users want to read bloggers' experiences or see their images, editors shouldn't be satisfied with having them go to Google to find it. "Isn't that editors' role in the first place?" Potts says. "To pick the best content and make it available to people? That's their job."

Good question, and the answer is yes....

woensdag 5 januari 2005

Mobile and open: a manifesto

Howard Rheingold speaks out on an open and mobile world, but understands that his vision is not a desired reality for everyone...

"The devices that most people on earth will carry or wear in coming decades could become platforms for technical and entrepreneurial innovation, foundations for industries that don't exist yet, enablers of social and political change. However, it is far from certain that mobile media will go the route of the PC, where teenage dropouts like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and millions of others actively shaped the technology, or the Internet, where search engines were invented in dorm rooms and innovators like Tim Berners-Lee gave away the World Wide Web for free without asking permission or changing any wiring."

Fortune blogging

Fortune has a good story on blogging. Like Joi Ito says it: "a lot of the stories will be familiar to heavy blog readers but it's a great summary of what's going on and a "must send" link to people you know who still don't understand blogs."

"When everybody has a tool for talking to the rest of the world, you can't hide from your mistakes. You have to face them. Once you commit to an open dialogue, you can't stop. And it's painful." As the impact of blogs spreads through global business, that pain—and promise—will be something companies will have to deal with. And if they don't? You're bound to read about it in a blog."

Blogging for a good cause

GeenStijl, a popular Dutch weblog, offers (in Dutch) readers the possibility to post a blog entry on if they can proof they donated at least 50 Euro for the victims of last week's tsunami in Asia. I like the idea (of selling out a popular weblog for a good cause), although some of the posts are definitely off topic (which isn't necessarily a bad thing...). One guy, Big Willem, even placed a personal, he's looking for a date...

dinsdag 4 januari 2005

Frequency 1550

A couple of years ago I wrote a research proposal on Game Based Learnig (GBL). The project didn't work out, but the subject still fascinates me. Waag Society in Amsterdam will be running a pilot, Frequency 1550, "examining whether it's possible to provide a technology supported educational location-based experience." I wish I was 11 again so I could participate...;-)

"In the Frequency 1550 mobile game, students will be transported to the medieval Amsterdam of 1550 via a medium so familiar to this agegroup as the mobile phone. The pilot will take place in 2005 from 7 to 9 February and is supported by KPN Mobile's UMTS network."

maandag 3 januari 2005

EPIC: Evolving Personalized Information Construct

Some nice thinking on where the future might take us. Although it's a just a scenario, some people should wake up and look at todays' facts.

"Google combines all of its services - TiVo, Blogger, GMail, GoogleNews and all of its searches into the Google Grid, a universal platform that provides a functionally limitless amount of storage space and bandwidth to store and share media of all kinds. Always online, accessible from anywhere. Each user selects her own level of privacy. She can store her content securely on the Google Grid, or publish it for all to see. It has never been easier for anyone, everyone to create as well as consume media."

zondag 2 januari 2005

Tsunami videos via BitTorrent

My previous post was all about BitTorrent, a very efficient way of distributing large media files very quickly. Last week's Tsunami has resulted in a couple of eye witness videos that can now be downloaded via BitTorrent. Here are the links to these amazing captures.

Patong Beach

Koh Lanta

Sri Lanka Resort

Sri Lanka


Penang Beach

You can find BitTorrent here if you're not already using it.

Out of control

I've just written a column for Muziek en Beeld, a Dutch magazine for the entertainment industry, where I tried to make a point similar to what Mark Pesce is saying here.

"If Napster hadn't been run out of business by the RIAA, it's unlikely that any need for Gnutella would have arisen; if the RIAA hadn't attacked that single point of failure, there'd have been no need to develop a solution which, by design, has no single point to failure. It's as though both sides in the war over piracy and file sharing are engaged in an evolutionary struggle: every time one side comes up with a new strategy, the other side evolves a response to it. This isn't just a cat-and-mouse game; each attack by the RIAA, generates a response of increasing sophistication. And, today, the MPAA has blundered into this arms race. This was, as will soon be seen, a Very Bad Idea."

On Flickr

For anyone who doesn't understand what distinguishes Flickr from other photo sharing websites, go read this Salon article. Flickr is, to me, a great example of how the online world adds a new dimension to the real world. Something I am continually experiencing with my own photoblog as well, but the impact of (the) Flickr (model) goes a bit further. Whether people like it or not...

"But more remarkable was the kind of running commentary from their wedding guests about their honeymoon in Amsterdam and Paris that took place on Flickr while it was still happening. "When we were wandering around we would take pictures with the camera phone, and we would post them immediately," Champ explains. "It was funny to get back and find people were having this real-time conversation about where we were. 'They're at Cafe Hugo near Place Des Vosges!' It was kind of unexpected to see all this dialogue."